Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lyin' In Bed, With the Radio On, Moonlight Falls Like Rain

Today you can check out the first installment of a new article about my b-movie life that I wrote for Microcinema Scene called, appropriately enough, I WAS BIGFOOT'S SHEMP.

Speaking of which, the Polonia Brothers' notorious, and I do mean notorious, underground cult classic SPLATTER FARM is getting a DVD release. Made when they were mere teens, and received national distribution. Has a guy pooping out a knife, so proceed with caution.

Again speaking of which, Tim Shrum posted a nice interview with Mark Polonia at the Polonia Brothers Fan Site, and he gives me a shout-out.

My pal Dr. Squid had a lot of fun at Fango, and I wish I had been riding shotgun. Check out his account here.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cry Me A River, That Leads To Your Ocean

I spent four days in hard labor preparing my home for next week's Open House for my graduating high school senior. I stepped on some broken glass, got poison ivy, tumbled into a thornbush, got sunburned, and something else that is escaping my mind right now. Maybe I got knocked out again. It seems like all home repair jobs end on the brink of divorce. I saw mine coming when I painted the front pillars on an overcast afternoon, just ahead of a torrential cloudburst. A few hours later I looked out the window and saw a river of watery white paint spilling over my porch and into the grass. So there's still a little work to do, though the bulk is done.

I also got the second draft of my new secret project fired off, meeting my deadline.

So to celebrate I watched Fox's movie reality show ON THE LOT last night, where the 18 surviving filmmakers got to show off a one-minute comedy. Like any video production class I've ever taught, there were two or three great ones, two or three disasters, and everybody else in the middle. This would be the point in my class where I would give the speech about talent. I know I'm not the first one to say this, but I think it's true: talent is an empty bucket. So you have to fill it with things, like discipline, and will, and responsibility, and deadlines, and projects. There are tons of talented people delivering pizzas. They have all of these great ideas and a lot of native talent, but instead of doing anything about it they decide to smoke a bowl and play some Xbox. Probably one of the most talented guys I ever worked with flamed out on alcohol and bad choices.

Conversely, I think a less talented person with a lot of will and determination can have a nice if not spectacular career. There is a lot of art in the industry, but I believe even more is craft. And craft can be learned.

I just finished watching the follow-up episode where three filmmakers were booted off, and the three "box office winners" were announced. Of the three top vote-getting movies, one guy is definitely a star, one guy's short was decent but his personal backstory (dad with kids, trying to live his dream) probably helped, and the third should have been kicked off the show instead. I agreed with the judges, sending a retarded guy to Hell isn't funny. But America voted, and those are the people who liked "Jackass" and Will Ferrell movies, so there you go.

Not to drag this post on too long for those who didn't watch the show, I thought none of the three who got the boot deserved it, especially the woman with the cell phone comedy. I think some of that may have been personality-driven. We'll see how the 15 survivors fare next week.

In the meantime, somebody found this blog by googling man video tapes his wife in back seat of the car with his daughters underaged boy friend and 'men of war' low budget porn by trident productions and powered sex machine diy how to. I mean, seriously, how does this happen?

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tell Me Something Good

I meant to blog more about ON THE LOT but missed it because it was my beloved mother's birthday. No better reason! But I will try to get back on track with Monday's show.

I've been busy as a blue-assed dog trying to get ready for my daughter's high school graduation in a week. We are hosting an open house which requires the entire home to be remodeled from the concrete slab up. And I'm trying to finish up a secret project when not falling asleep at the keyboard at night. In the meantime, you can read what some headbangers thought about SEX MACHINE here.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

The B-Mailbag Returns

Loyal Canadian reader Jamie writes:

Hello John, how's it going? Congrats on SEX MACHINE!!!! AMONG US aired again last weekend on Space, the third in the CREATURE FEATURE line-up. Very cool!

Thanks, and I'm glad AMONG US is still thrillin' them up in the Great White North!

Longtime reader Doug weighs in on a number of geek-pop references of late:

Well, first off, you're pretty much exactly right about the black alien costume, except that the actual origin is even more non-sensical. My brothers and I actually got the Secret Wars books for Christmas one year, along with the very first Transformers Comics put out by Marvel. Just so happened that they were the first comics we ever got, so I still remmeber them in every detail. While catching a breather in an alien fortress on an alien world, Wasp shows up (not surprisingly) wearing a new costume. Spidey, looking rather ragged by this point, asks where she got the new threads, and she points to a room and says that she got some alien machine to make them for her. Spidey wanders into the room, looks at a variety of machines, picks one that looks like a salon hair dryer, puts his head underneath, and a black ball drops into his hand. It then covers his whole body, apparently dissolving his old costume. He later goes back to earth, and wild hijinks ensue. Weirder still is that he makes a guest appearance in Transformers #3 wearing the balack costume. THose were the days, I guess.

I would advise against seeing FF2. FF1 was absolutely awful. I don't expect the new one to be any better. I did find it interesting that the actor who plays Silver Surfer is a former Ball State Charley Cardinal.

As for JLA/JSA, I had the same thoughts about the Legion Appearance. I think this is (one of) DC's way of showing that the multiverse is back and that Pre-Crisis earth really did exist. I'll loan you 52 when I come up this summer, but suffice it to say that the big hidden mystery was that there are now 52 parallel earths in existence as a result of Infinite Crisis. The Countdown book that just started will (I think) explore which earths they are. One of them certainly appears to be the Kingdom Come Earth. Beyond all that, the crossover is very entertaining. Some of the best mainstream stuff I've read in a while.

Thanks for the info, Doug!

I am trying to finish up a secret project over the long weekend, then starting another secret project, and maybe taking another pass at NEW JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. Meanwhile, my baby graduates high school a week from Sunday. Other than that, nothing much going on, so give me a yell at

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blogging On The Lot

My brother-in-law told me about ON THE LOT, the new Fox reality show about aspiring filmmakers. I watched the debut last night and did enjoy it, despite the reality show trappings of false reality we are all learning to sniff out.

First the fifty filmmakers had to pitch a script from a logline chosen at random, work on it overnight and pitch it the next day. Eh, not so bad. I was cheering for my boy from Dyer, Indiana, but during the pitch he froze like a Hoosier winter.

First actual lesson learned from the show: Have your game face on.

Second lesson learned during the pitch section: Sleep a little bit once in a while. My rule of thumb is that if I don’t have it down by one in the morning I go to bed.

The next task, after the axe fell on some people we never got to know, including my Hoosier bud, was to make a two and a half minute short in 24 hours, in groups of three. Not great, but again not the worst thing. They already had actors and locations ready. I know guys that have shot whole features in three days with nothing but some karo syrup mixed with red food coloring, some leftover Halloween costumes, and a stripper.

That makes me think, I ought to start my own show called IN THE BACKYARD, and make that the first challenge. I guarantee I can find fifty great filmmakers from the people I have met at Microcinema Fest and on the Microcinema Scene boards and other places over the years. The winner gets a spot on the next Brentwood DVD Ten-Pack.

Anyway, I think making teams of three and having them produce the short together is actually the worst part. Next lesson learned: there are some steps between dreaming about making movies and becoming Steven Spielberg’s right-hand man. For instance, you might have to carry a camera once in a while.

And the next lesson learned: Even if you’re a genius, you should always remember not to be an a-hole.

Next week they screen the movies, and I am predicting a number of disasters. But I will be watching.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Badasssss Song

Writes my brother:

hey john. just read your blog re japanese release. all i gotta say is:


i love it. i'm not sure if that should be the name of a biography,
album, or maybe an 80's rapper. or all of the above.

I did not attend the mock car crash at the school Friday, where my daughter portrayed the kid getting mock-killed on prom night. Ironically, the drunk driver was portrayed by the kid who took her to prom last year. My wife decided to go, though, and said the worst moment was the zipping of the body bag, but the funniest was that her hair smelled like McDonald's french fries, being that her head was liberally splashed with ketchup on what was a warm day. Apparently some kids real-cried. It might have been worth it, as a father, to go and see if any boys looked teary-eyed, to be able to gauge future boyfriends.

The current boyfriend, who lives some distance away, stayed over after prom at the request of his parents, who didn't want him driving at four in the morning. I said that was fine, as long as he slept in the guest bedroom and I slept on the floor outside the door with a rope tied around my ankle and the other end tied around his.

Working on a rewrite of a new secret project.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Friendly Neighborhood

I may be the last one to catch this bus, but I found out that Rashida Jones of THE OFFICE is the daughter of Peggy Lipton of THE MOD SQUAD. The likeness seems so obvious now. And I understand my overwhelming desire to see nice, sweet Jenna Fischer kicked to the curb. If only they would let Rashida wear a foxy pantsuit and go catch some criminals. Guys over 35, you know what I'm talkin' 'bout.

I took my Little Brother Harold to see SPIDER-MAN 3, along with a quarter billion other people. I think I liked it more than many, as it has been getting some lukewarm reviews.

SPOILERS, probably...

But, as a for instance, I laughed at the Emo haircut Rat Pack Spider-Man sequence and many people didn’t. I also felt joy when the marching band busted out the Spider-Man theme in the “Key to the City” sequence. I thought Thomas Haden Church was spot-on as Sandman, and I thought it was interesting how they modeled him a bit more on the version that appeared as, more or less, a good guy in the SILVER SABLE comic. The Venom thing is never going to make sense. I think, if I recall the go-go 80s well enough, Spider-Man originally found the black costume on some sort of barren rock out in space during SECRET WARS. I can probably google this and find out in five seconds, but I think that’s close enough. So that is no more ludicrous than a meteor crashing to earth nearby. It was just as well they wrapped up the Goblin story. The plot shows a lot of seams but there is enough fun to carry me over the rough spots.

Next Harold and I will be seeing RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER, though I never saw the first FF movie.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Domo Arigato, Brice Kennedy

Brice Kennedy, who has given memorable turns in roles in PETER ROTTENTAIL and THE DA VINCI CURSE and other movies I didn't write, sent me this great email today:

This is pretty cool I've gotta say... After a conversation with a DP from Cine Excel this afternoon and bit of online sleuthing, I finally located the Japanese version of THE DA VINCI CURSE! AND IT'S FOR SALE!! Of course, being in the movie, I had to order a copy. It wasn't cheap... about 40 euros which comes out to about $58 U.S. but well worth it, I'm sure. The shipping'll take up to three weeks but again, worth the wait. Apparently, this was released in Japan on September 22 of last year. I've seen it already (comp screener for cast/crew) but haven't seen this version. I've been trying to track this down for months., baby! I've always wanted to see a foreign release of something I've been a part of. It's subtitled (not dubbed, unfortunately) and in widescreen and the box! Oh, the box! Far and away the best cover art for any PBE project. It's incredible.

SO... for interested parties, head over to Sazuma's website (German) at The DVD is region 2, of course so you (and I) will need either a region-free player or a hack on your existing player (found all over the net). The Tokyo-based distributor is Creative Axa and check this out... here's the link to the official page on Creative Axa's site. It's in Japanese but you can check out the cool cover art... . Only 3,999 yen! Act now!!

And a final little nugget of goodness... this is how the Babel site translates the synopsis on Creative Axa's site:

"It is hidden skillfully by ?????, the secret treasure = saintly cup which temple horseman group protects. Eternal life is brought to the person whom it has, this saintly relic the hand fake is with, Hitler corps Nazis started moving. If the saintly cup crosses the hand of the person et. al., the world is controlled in preponderant badness. The US military which fears that lowers dense life to the soldier of the elite. "You capture the saintly cup".... But, the person et. al. did not know. There is a power which exceeds human intelligence in the saintly cup, the human does not have to touch the hand under any condition, the notion that where -. Photographing: Mathieu S Smith special ????? effect: Crith male bone music: Parker ?????, Script: John Oak Dalton, Production Supervision: Mark Polo Near/John Polo Near/John Mack Bride" Preponderant badness! The Saintly Cup! The Polo Near Brothers! And John Mack Bride!

Hahaha.... this is by far the coolest thing I've seen in a long time and had to share this with you guys. If anyone plunks down the cash, post it here!

Later!! Brice Kennedy

Actually, that description of the movies is pretty accurate. Give me a yell at

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

My daughter is president of the high school student body, and Friday is the day before Prom, so she gets the time-honored role of playing the kid who gets dragged out of the smashed car and zipped into a body bag in front of the whole school, in a little playlet designed to show the perils of underaged drinking. She asked if I wanted to come and watch this program. I was like, eff no, are there any other of my nightmares you'd like to recreate?

Zero Minute Film School. Cool.

This kind of stuff really fascinates me.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Love is Like Oxygen

For those who can't wait any longer, you can go to Christopher Sharpe's website here and peep the first few minutes of SEX MACHINE, including a pretty snappy title sequence.

If I was in the Writer's Guild, somebody would probably owe me about ninety cents.

Speaking of which, I have been reading Premiere magazine for many years, and found out rather abruptly that it is ceasing publication. They have decided to fill out my subscription run by sending me, somewhat absurdly, Us magazine. Last week was the first issue I received, and the cover featured "Why Alec Snapped" and more tales of Katie's imprisonment, as well as fashion comments on a lot of actresses whom I don't recognize. This is not a replacement for Premiere magazine. If you have any suggestions, please post them. And don't say Variety or Hollywood Reporter. I only read those when I'm in them, once every year or two. The rest of the time it's like giving a hobo a copy of The Wall Street Journal.

Do you know what's been cool? The JLA/JSA/Legion cross-over. It is completely out of any sort of continuity but warms my heart nonetheless.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Torpedo Girl

Loyal reader Jake writes:

Hey John, I was just thinking about movie scripts and I was wondering how long a typical script is? Thanx, Jake

Thanks for asking, Jake, as it is so seldom I actually get to give out useful information on this site. Usually you are looking at a page a minute. If you have a lot of talking, it may be a little less than a minute per page, and if you have a lot of fighting and killing, it might be a little more than a minute per page. If you want to write b-movies, most directors will want less of the former and more of the latter. You need at least 75 pages, unless you are going to have a lot of hot tub scenes or people yelling through the woods yelling "NOOOOOO!!!!" I think 80-85 pages is a nice cozy place to land. Don't write more than 110 pages unless you are writing Schindler's List Part 2. I have in the past posted some of my scripts on the site if you want to see a basic idea of what they should look like.

Tonight I was flipping through the channels and caught The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly just starting. Man, it's easy to forget how cool Sergio Leone is.

Feel free to write me at

Friday, May 04, 2007

Calling Doctor Love

Loyal reader Dave writes:

Hey, you have a link to the trailer for Sex Machine? I've been looking for one all day to show a co-worker of mine, but I am a bit leary of just going to Google and typing in Sex Machine.

As well you should be. I have heard that some people are trying to put porn up on the internet. Try this site for all of your more or less work-safe "Sex Machine" needs:

My daughter seems to have a new boyfriend, who introduced himself to me by saying that he knew a lot about my movies. Knowing the kinds of movies I have been involved in, this is not a good sign.

I had finally broken off with ER but found myself watching a "special episode" last night. It still needs euthanasia. I don't remember if I wrote this here before, but I remember when ER was about a lot of really good doctors trying to fight a corrupt system at a bare-bones hospital. Now it's about about a lot of young hipsters hooking up. And, what's funny when you really watch carefully, many of them are just not very good doctors.

Got a couple of projects in the hopper to hopefully shout about soon. Until then, give me a shout at

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Takin' It To The Streets

On days that movies I worked on street I like to drive around and try to find them. It gets harder and harder as I continue to move to smaller places, but it is still fun and gives you a sense of perspective. A lot of people have expressed to me how easy it would be to go out and make any old b-movie, if only they would degrade themselves enough to bother to do it. But the truth is that it is incredibly hard. Not only just the writing, which is where it starts, but finding someone to actually make it, and then find someone to actually put it out there in some form. I have been hired to work on more than fifteen scripts in the last handful of years and close to half of those you can actually find anywhere--and I would consider that a good percentage.

It's funny, but when a DVD streets the writer is usually long out of the picture, and it's time for the techs and the actors to shine. I'm not sure, but I think I've written about a half-dozen projects since SEX MACHINE. Longtime readers know that I took about a year off from freelancing because of a career change and some personal stuff, but since I put my name back out there in December I know I have completed four projects. I started a rewrite this weekend for somebody I have wanted to work with for a long time, and I have a project lined up after that, basically filling up my freelance schedule until the 4th of July. If half of these street I will be happy, and if the percentage is higher I will be ecstatic.

Keep an eye on Christopher Sharpe's and Bill Cunningham's websites over the next few days as they start releasing extras and additional materials to support the DVD release of SEX MACHINE.

And, in the meantime, if you see SEX MACHINE anywhere, give me a holler!